Professor Clare Lees named new director of the Institute of English Studies

Wednesday 10 January 2018

Clare A Lees, Professor of Medieval Literature in the Department of English at King’s College London, has been appointed Director of the Institute of English Studies (IES) at the School of Advanced Study, University of London, with effect from 1 September 2018. She will be the first female Director of the IES.

Founded in 1999, the IES facilitates advanced study and research in English studies for the benefit of the national and international academic community. Its extensive seminar and lecture programme covers topics from medieval manuscripts to contemporary work. The Institute offers an MA/MRes programme in the history of the book and runs research training activities in, for example, palaeography, print history, textual scholarship, and publishing.

“I’m thrilled to be joining SAS as the new Director of the IES,” says Professor Lees. “This is an exciting time for English Studies nationally and worldwide, and I look forward to working with the IES at this important moment in the Institute’s history. I am also excited to help advance and support research excellence in the School and in our wider community of scholars.”

Professor Lees’s work is situated at the intersection of several disciplines: Anglo-Saxon Studies, Medieval Studies, and Gender and Sexuality Studies. Her published work includes studies of the history of women’s writing, religious literature, relations between textual and material culture, and reworkings of Anglo-Saxon literature by contemporary writers. She is the editor of The Cambridge History of Early Medieval English Literature (Cambridge University Press, 2013). Her current book projects include a study of Old English literature in the period following the Anglo-Saxons and an anthology of modern poems about early medieval culture.

Her interest in the contemporary use of the medieval is exemplified by an arts commission on Colm Cille (St Columba) that she developed in partnership with London arts agency Difference Exchange for the UK City of Culture 2013. Since then, she has collaborated with a number of artists, most notably at the Whitechapel Gallery, London—work that resulted in a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship in 2016.

From 2013 to 2016, Professor Lees was founding director of the London Arts and Humanities Partnership (LAHP), a doctoral training partnership funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council that includes the School of Advanced Study, King’s College London, and University College London. LAHP provides up to 80 cross-institutional postgraduate studentships each year for PhD students in the arts and humanities.

Professor Lees holds BA and MA degrees from the University of Leeds and a PhD from the University of Liverpool. She served as a member of the English Sub-Panel for the 2014 Research Excellence Framework and is a member of the Higher Education Committee and the Fellowship Committee of the English Association.

Commenting on the appointment, Professor Sir Adrian Smith, Vice-Chancellor of the University of London said: “I am very pleased to welcome Clare to the Institute of English Studies. Her academic expertise and connections will be of immense value and I look forward to working with her to support future developments at the IES.”

“I am delighted that Clare will be joining the School as Director of the Institute of English Studies,” said Professor Rick Rylance, Dean of the School of Advanced Study and former Director of the IES. “She brings a wealth of achievement and experience and a clear-sighted vision for how the IES will develop and the way it will make a contribution both to the wider School and the national and international communities of scholars in English. I eagerly look forward to working with her.”